Within days of changing media managers, Bok coach Peter de Villiers has shown yet again that he cannot seem to keep his foot out of his mouth.
Rugby 365 reports that De Villiers was speaking at the launch of Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield’s Blood Brothers testimonial “bonus year” in which the achievements of the Springbok lock pairing will be honoured for the benefit of child welfare.
In what was meant to be a tribute to Botha and Matfield’s strength of character, given that the Bok mentor would know the pair as people better than most, De Villiers explained that if Springbok fans see Botha smiling on the field then they should know that he had “just punched someone”.
This verbal faux pas – so typical of De Villiers’s tenure as Bok mentor – is wholly innapropriate, considering Botha’s chequered disciplinary record.
The World Cup-winning Bok enforcer has just finished serving a nine-week ban for headbutting All Black scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan in the Tri-Nations.
That incident occured soon after Botha had finished serving a four-week ban for entering a ruck illegally – after charging recklessly with his shoulder into Gio Aplon’s head in the Super 14.
Botha was also banned for two weeks for recklessly entering a ruck during the British and Irish Lions tour last year, injuring prop Adam Jones – who later required surgery. This prompted the Springbok players to launch a “Justice 4 Bakkies” armband protest.
Whether or not the comment was made in jest is irrelevant as it has done further damage to the reputations of both Botha and De Villiers.
De Villiers does not seem to be doing himself, or indeed his new media manager Andy Colquhoun, any favours ahead of their year-end tour.
The British press will doubtless focus on this thoughtless comment, creating a distracting sideshow similar to the Schalk Burger eye-gouging debacle ahead of the third Test against the B&I Lions last year.
If De Villiers cannot stay away from controversy at a charity initiative – which should highlight his players’ virtous qualities – what chance does he have in the United Kingdom and Ireland where questions from the press will be designed to evoke a controversial response?Tweet